Hometown Impressions

  • Memory Pieces, 16x20, oil on panel, 2011
  •     West Street, 24x30, oil on canvas, 2011
  •     Market, 30x48, oil on canvas, 2011
  •     Well, 30x40, oil on canvas, 2011

  • Rain, 30x40, oil on canvas, 2011
  • Carpenter, 24x30, oil on canvas, 2011    
  • Ferryman, 18x24, oil on canvas, 2011
  •     Sewing Room, 30x48, oil on canvas, 2012

  • The Cycle of Sustenance, 36x72, oil on canvas, 2012
         Taste of Hometown, 18x24, oil on canvas, 2013
  • The Joy of Pop Rice, 30x90, oil on canvas, 2012

I grew up in Nankang, a small town located in southern China. It is a town surrounded by hills and rivers, and most of the people are Hakka, a group that traces its history to the original Chinese Han nationality. The Hakka have been living there for more than two thousand years.

As in so many other parts of the world, rapid social and technological changes in recent years have affected and transformed old lifestyles, traditions, and even the terrain. For the past 26 years, I have been pursuing my education, working and living far from Nankang in some of China’s largest cities and now in the United States. The passage of time and geographic distance have given me a different perspective of my past, the memories of which are still fresh in my mind and cherished by me.

The idea of painting memories of my hometown was conceived in 2008 and since then I have collected a substantial amount of information from various sources, mainly the recollections and photographs of family and friends who feel sentiment and nostalgia for the loss of the place of their youth and its traditions. Imagination plays an important part in orchestrating and recreating these familiar scenes.

The “Hometown Impressions” series starts from the place where I spent my childhood. A little girl and her mother walk along a street with typical southern architectural style, which reappears often in the series as the center of people’s activities. It is dawn and most of the shops are not yet open for business. Soon there will be many people and much activity, as the mother and child go about their business, shopping in the farmers market, visiting the sewing house, watching the carpenter at his work, perhaps finding something special to eat at the tea house, or even walking to visit grandparents in the countryside…

These oil paintings are fragments of my memories about my carefree childhood. They capture moments in time, from a place that is rapidly changing. In a sense, these daily scenes are self-portraits and they capture the emotions, memories, and relationships from my life.

Lucia Liao

Feb. 2012